It’s never too early to look ahead to next year’s season, unless of course, if you’re Jimbo Fisher or a member of the Seminole football team. Florida State had a pretty successful season under Jimbo, including huge wins over Miami and Florida, as well as a division crown. Despite losing key players like Christian Ponder, Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahan, the future looks bright in Tallahassee. FSU is projected to start the 2011 season ranked higher than the start of the 2010 season. Following a visit to the ACC Championship game, the Seminoles have their eyes set on winning the ACC game in ’11 and reach a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2005. Let’s take a look at next year’s schedule.
ACC Atlantic Games:
ACC Rival Game:
ACC Rotating Games:
Notes on the schedule:
Advantages in 2011 vs. 2010:
· FSU replaces BYU on the schedule with Charleston Southern/Louisiana-Monroe.
· FSU hosts Oklahoma instead of traveling to Oklahoma.
· FSU hosts Miami instead of traveling to Miami.
· FSU gets Virginia and Duke from the Coastal Division. Couldn’t get any easier than that.
Disadvantages in 2011 vs. 2010:
· FSU plays in Gainesville instead of playing in Tallahassee.
· FSU plays on the road in 3 of the 5 Atlantic Division games.
As noted above, Florida State does have an overall easier schedule in 2011 than they did in 2010. I believe Charleston Southern, Louisiana-Monroe, @Duke, and Virginia are all almost guaranteed wins.
Maryland, @Clemson, @Wake Forest and @Boston College will be key games for FSU to win in order to secure the ACC Atlantic division. In the “lost decade” for Florida State, these type of ‘should win’ games were the games that the Seminoles failed to run away with, and many times ended up losing. If this team wants to return to the days of conference champions and BCS bowl-bound, they must win these games next season.
NC State, Oklahoma, Miami and @Florida will be the toughest four games for the ‘Noles, assuming Russell Wilson stays at NC State for another season. I think if he returns next year, the Wolfpack could still be a dangerous team. Thankfully Florida State won’t have to play in Raleigh on a Thursday night. As Florida State looks to defend their state championship, the Seminoles will face two programs looking for revenge. Florida State should be favored in both games, but I don’t think either game will be a blowout like this past season. Miami will still have some highly-rated seniors and juniors so they could make a run with Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division. Florida will also be a tough game because it’ll be in Gainesville next season and it would be difficult to imagine the Gators having a worse season than 2010. Both Miami and Florida have new coaching staffs so next year’s matchups will be very intriguing. The Oklahoma Sooners will most likely be the toughest game all season for the ‘Noles. If you want proof, just look back at the 2010 season. Thankfully for the Seminoles, the game will be played in Tallahassee. This game will change the make-up of the season. A win in this game will lead to premature national championship talk. However, a loss will eliminate those chances and cause the Seminoles to re-focus on the ACC schedule and a chance of reaching the Orange Bowl.
The 2011 Florida State team will be the best we’ve since in nearly a decade. My prediction is that the Seminoles will finish 10-2, with Oklahoma as the most likely candidate to hand FSU a loss. UF, Miami, NC State, Clemson, and Boston College have potential to upset the ‘Noles but I believe only one of them will. Following the 10-2 season, FSU will represent the Atlantic Division in Charlotte. However, I believe the Seminoles will get revenge on Virginia Tech and make it to the Orange Bowl for the first time in 2005. FSU will also finish the year with a top-15 ranking and begin legitimate national championship talks for the following season.